High River United Church of High River, Alberta


Do I Have to Believe in God to Come to Church?

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Do I have to believe in God in order to come to church? That’s a good question, which leads to several more questions, but first a simple answer – No! You don’t have to believe in God in order to come to church.


There are many reasons that you alone, or with your family, might choose to come to church. You might come because you long for a community around. You might wish to be part of a group of people from many generations. You might come because you know people who are involved and want to spend time with them. You might wish to be with others who share similar values, and you might wish to deepen the living of those values in your own life and with your children. You might enjoy the activities that are happening at church. You might be lonely. You might enjoy singing. You might wish for some quiet time.


These are all reasons to come to church – whether or not you say that you believe in God. And they are all very acceptable. Why not come to church for these reasons! Come on a Sunday morning or come to any mid-week activity. You are always welcome here.


However, the next question is what does it mean to believe in God?


Within our congregation, we would have a great variety of definitions of what or who God is. On any given Sunday, there will be those there who firmly believe in God, and others who are doubting or questioning or wondering. That is natural in the human journey. We don’t all have to believe the same, or believe at all, to choose to be together in worship or at any other church activity.


So what does it mean to believe in God?


First of all – God – how do you define God? A higher power, an energy bigger than us and beyond us, Father, Mother, Creator, Spirit, The Force…. the Bible is full of images for God, and each of us have our own ways of perceiving God. For me to believe in God is to acknowledge that there is a power greater than me, a power which I know as compassionate love and gentle understanding. I am not the centre of my life – God is. I am not accountable only to my self or to my family, but to something much greater than myself – the Creator of the Universe.


I believe that God calls me, nudges me and encourages me to keep growing and learning how to be a person of compassion. For me, that involves following the Way of Jesus, and how he taught us to love our enemies, to show hospitality to strangers, to share our resources so that no one is in need, and to speak up against injustice.


Second of all, there is that word, believe. I love the Hebrew definition of the word believe. In Hebrew. it means to be held and cradled, as if in the arms of a parent or caregiver. That’s what it means for me to believe in God. My belief holds me and cradles me in the worst moments and in the best moments, in my joys and in my sorrows, in my triumphs and in my tragedies. God holds me; I am not alone.


I have had deep experiences of God – of a divine presence that fills me, calms me, and encourages me. At other times, I’m not sure where God is or what God is up to, and yet even in those times, my belief in God holds me and cradles me.


So, do you have to believe in God to come to church? No. You are welcome to come as you are – believing or unbelieving, trusting or doubting, pondering, wondering, searching and hoping. We are all on that journey.


If there is something nudging at you to try church or to come to an activity at the church, follow the nudge and come see what it is all about.


There is a place for you here – just as you are!


November 14, 2019            ©Susan Lukey 2019

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123 MacLeod Trail S.W. High River, Alberta.

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